LANCASTER CITY ended their Evo-Stik campaign with a bang and three points against Mossley on Friday.
A stunning second goal from Dave Swarbrick, his 19th of a season he joined in October, added to Alex Johnson’s first half header.
With nothing to play for but pride and league position at times both sides were lacklustre but that didn’t seem to matter to the Dolly Blue fans who were out to enjoy the finale to what, on reflection, was a terrific season.
With a President’s cup trophy all shiny and won and a turbulent campaign over on time, despite four weeks of postponements, the City players can be proud that they have matched most comers and entertained throughout.
They passed the ball quite well at times on Friday, keeping it at the back with ease throughout the first half they then, typically, lashed forward with great speed to create a number of chances.
Before putting away his simple goal on 19 minutes Johnson had a couple of very good opportunities, first he failed to make good enough contact with Michael Hall’s well placed cross and tapped it at Peter Collinge in the Mossley net before breaking into the box, turning onto his left foot and curling a chance just over the ‘keeper’s top right corner.
His goal was, as said, a gift. A deep cross from Sam Nightingale was brilliantly met by Alex Kenyon – beating Collinge to the ball at the back-post.
His header crashed off the bar and fell for Johnson to stoop in the six-yard box and head home.
At the other end Martin Fearon – who was to make a crowd-pleasing if somewhat bizarre late cameo as a centre-forward – pulled off a decent save to deny a dipping effort from Connor Hampson after he tipped a low shot round the post from the same man.
On the whole City were, once again it must be said, solid at the back, Jack Duggan won every header that came his way alongside his captain Neil Marshall who for the most part kept the dangerous Kristian Dennis in his pocket.
Rob Henry had a top-notch performance at full-back, forever diligent in defence his forays forward provide Billy McKenna with an earful of advice and the right-back perhaps deserved a goal in the second 45 when Max Rothwell’s cross looped his way in the box, it was a forgettable cross-cum shot from Henry but he deserves recognition for a terrific season.
McKenna has ended the season on a run of brilliant form, his electric pace gets him into positions but in his early outings he failed to find the correct pass, he has done that as the season has come to a close and will be a terrific asset for next season.
On to Swarbrick, the striker has hit seven in seven for the Dolly Blues, today’s goal came off the bench, he adds a skilful dimension to City’s attack and also has pace and energy to burn.
His memorable cup final goal, a long-range effort that flew into the top corner was perhaps bettered by this strike.
In a second 45 that failed to get going City had passed the ball around well, with Rob Wilson looking particularly sharp in the middle, with few chances of note to show for it.
Rothwell had burst into the box but dithered and presented Collinge with an easy save but, at both ends; until Swarbrick struck the chances were minimal.
Ironically it was as route-one as you can get. A Fearon kick out of his hands took one bounce on a solid Giant Axe surface and looped over Swarbrick’s right shoulder; he let it drop and struck it first time, a sensational dipping volley that left Collinge with no chance.
Fearon, one of City’s players of the season without question, added pesky centre-forward to his list of attributes as he replaced McKenna outfield, comical as it were it gave the crowd another reason to chant his name.
His replacement Dave Rodgerson ably kept the clean-sheet intact with a tremendous flying save to deny Dennis.
Lancaster City: Fearon 7, Henry 8, Nightingale 7, Duggan 8, Marshall 7, Kenyon 6, Wilson R 8 (Swarbrick 70), McKenna 7 (Rodgerson 90), Rothwell 6 (Wilson S 70), Johnson 7, Hall 7
Mossley: Collinge, Flint, Koo, Kay, McGonigle, Rick, Rowney, Hare (Egan 78), Dennis, Hampson (Cuff 54), Constantine (Abey 61)
Subs not used: Heap, Clarke
Referee: Alan Young
Starman: Rob Wilson - Looked neat and tidy on the ball and has a brilliant eye for a pass